The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement In Islam
Abdur Rahim Jaggoe
Biography By : Rasidoer Rahman Jaggoe

Maulana Abdur Rahim Jaggoe was born on 18th August, 1914 in Saramacca, Suriname (South America). His parents were Mrs. R. Jaggoe and Mr. S. Sukul. At that time it was customary to bear surname of one’s mother and hence his name carried Jaggoe as his surname. His ancestors from mother’s side hailed from a village near Simla in the north of Punjab, India. They came to Suriname in 1874 on a contract to work at the sugarcane fields of Catherina Sophia in Saramacca. One year later his father’s ancestors arrived from Calcutta, India and were allowed to work in Saramacca. These families were Brahmans, the highest caste among the Hindus. However his mother’s ancestors could not adjust themselves to the prevalent working conditions and returned to India at the end of the contract period.

In 1917 his parents, with two sons and one daughter, moved from Saramacca to Paramaribo. Unfortunately his elder brother died in a road accident on his way to school. Soon after his sister died too. Maulana Jaggoe after finishing his primary school education went to St. Paul’s Secondary School, which was in fact a middle school imparting education up to 8th class. It was a Roman Catholic School, so he was required to study the Bible and attend Church services. He took keen interest in studying the Bible. In the afternoons he attended a private tuition centre to learn Hindi.

While still at school, his father died and his mother remarried Mr. Zahoor Mohammed from India, who was an educated person and knew Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Bengali languages. He had attended the University of Aligarh and had studied Islamic theology there. He had learnt the Quran by heart and had studied Hadith.

Being an orthodox Muslim and a trader his step-father wanted him to acquire knowledge of Islamic theology. His father’s knowledge and encouragement had increased his interest in religion. Maulana Jaggoe was still in the middle school, when unfortunately his step-father also passed away. Circumstances compelled him to leave the school and look after his father’s business. But even in these difficult times he managed to study books on Islam and other religions.

There were no Islamic schools in Suriname at that time and maulvis [religious clerics] conducting services at various mosques could not satisfy his thirst for knowledge of Islam. So he tried to acquire knowledge about Islam through correspondence with Islamic centres in India. But it was quite a time-consuming exercise as there was no direct mail service between Suriname and India. Moreover, guidance provided through correspondence was not well documented and therefore it was not satisfactory at all.

On 29 January 1939 he married Lailun Nissa Juthan. Soon after his marriage he decided to proceed to India and later to Pakistan to acquire religious knowledge at some recognised Islamic Institution. But his plan was thwarted as the Second World War broke out. At the end of the war, he again started his efforts in this direction. Meanwhile his family circumstances had also changed. Now he had six children including two orphans and the business of drapery to look after. In these circumstances, it became difficult for him to proceed to Pakistan. But at this difficult juncture his brother-in-law, Mr. Abdul Majid Hassan Mohammed, offered to help him out by looking after his family as well his business. Finally he could inform the Suriname Islamic Association, of which he was a member and the Imam, about his plan to proceed abroad for studies. Fortunately Maulana Bashir Ahmad Minto, missionary of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman in USA happened to visit Suriname at that time as guest of the Suriname Islamic Association. Maulana Minto encouraged him to study Islam in Pakistan and made necessary arrangements for him in Lahore. It took some time before he received necessary documents from Pakistan as there was no representative of the Pakistan Government in Suriname. Finally he boarded a ship for Holland on 12 September, 1949. In Holland he met the Consul General of Pakistan Mr. Lal Shah Bukhari in Hague, who provided him necessary guidance and assistance and also gave him a letter of introduction for Mr. Fazlur Rahman, at that time minister for Education. The letter facilitated his stay in Karachi and then his onward journey to Lahore. It was for the first time that he had the honour of meeting Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali, the world-renowned translator of the Quran and head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement.

He tried to get admission in some class of the University of Punjab where he could undertake some course in Islamic studies. But in view of his formal education obtained in Suriname, he was unable to undertake any such course. The Central Anjuman of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, as agreed prior to his departure for Pakistan, made special arrangements to provide him necessary tuition in the Quran, Hadith and Fiqh and also basic knowledge about the teachings of Islam and other religions. Among his teachers was the world-renowned scholar of comparative religions, Hazrat Maulana Abdul Haque Vidyarthi. At the completion of two years’ course, he was awarded diploma of a fully trained mubaligh. During his two years stay he was able to write several booklets dealing with questions relating to Taraweeh, Ramazan and Mi’raj. He also compiled and published a pocket-size Urdu-Dutch dictionary on his own expenses. From here in 1950 he was fortunate to perform his first Hajj [Pilgrimage]. That year the temperature was extremely high and several hundred people had died due to heat-stroke, but Maulana Jaggoe by the grace of Allah survived. There he met a learned fellow Mr. Mohaddas Mas’hat, a senior lecturer at the University of Madina. It was due to his kind hospitality that Maulana Jaggoe received special care and attention.

He was about to complete his academic period when in October 1951, Hazrat Muhammad Ali, Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, passed away. Hazrat Maulana took keen interest in his education and other arrangements. Soon after, he left Pakistan for his homeland, Suriname. On his way back, he stayed for a couple of weeks at Woking, England as guest of Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, incharge of Woking Muslim Mission and Imam of the Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, England, and discussed with him his future plan for the propagation work in West Indies and South America. From England he went to Trinidad, where Moulvi Ameer Ali, Mufti of Trinidad Muslim League welcomed him. Here he was able to seek his guidance for planning missionary activities in the Western Hemisphere. From Trinidad he stopped over for a few days in Guyana. Finally he reached Suriname on 23rd November, 1951 where his family, members of Suriname Islamic Association and large number of his admirers came to welcome him. After taking some rest and settling his family and business matters, he resumed his duty as Imam of the Suriname Islamic Association and reorganised tabligh [propagation] work and education of the youth.

He took keen interest in social and cultural activities of the country which enhanced importance of the Suriname Islamic Association as the vibrant Muslim organisation of the country. So he was given special invitation by the Bharat Ouday Foundation of Guyana to attend its first Centenary celebration of the arrival of Indians in Guyana. As he had fair amount of knowledge about Hindi and Hinduism, so he was appointed member of the Examination Board by the Baboe Mahatam Singh of India who had organised special classes for teaching and promoting Hindi.

During his tenure of almost 29 years in Suriname, he held various important posts and did commendable work in the field of creating religious harmony and propagating true and rational teachings of Islam. Below is given a brief account of his appointments and commendable work:

1st November 1953:

Muslim Marriage Officer appointed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Suriname.

1st January 1954:

Member of the Executive Committee of Landsgrond Boniface on the recommendation of Ministry of Social Affairs, Suriname.

10th March 1955:

Swearing-in Officer at the courts appointed by the Ministry of Law dealing with Muslim marriage and divorce cases.

11th July 1961:

Member of the Advisory Committee regarding Asian marriages on the recommendation of Governor of Suriname and nominated by the Minister of Home Affairs.

1st October 1962:

On the request of Ministry of Education, delivered lectures on Islam and comparative religions at Secondary Schools and Teachers Training College.

During this period he undertook extensive tour of Guyana on the instructions of the Central Anjuman of Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman, to establish central organisation of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i Islam in Georgetown, Guyana.

In 1964 he became member of the World Congress of Religions and Peace and on the invitation of this international organisation attended its several conferences held in various countries.

Due to efforts and commendable organisational capability of Maulana Jaggoe and also his contacts in Saudi Arabia he organised large groups to perform Hajj [pilgrimage] in Saudi Arabia for consecutive five years. During these trips he also took the groups to India and Pakistan. Impressed by his commendable service to his community in leading Hajj groups to Saudi Arabia, whereby more and more people became interested in the performance of Hajj, KLM arranged a chartered flight to Saudi Arabia and requested Maulana Jaggoe to lead this special Hajj flight. Afterwards he led several Umrahs [visting Makkah] groups to Makkah. In total he performed 2 Umrahs and seven Hajjs.

In recognition of his meritorious services to his community in the fields of religion and culture, the Suriname Islamic Association (Surinaamse Islamitische Vereniging), on his 50th birthday, awarded him a golden brooch bearing insignia of the Holy Quran.

1st March 1968: He was made life member of the international organisation "Divine Life Spiritual Club" of India.

In 1972: Queen Juliana of Netherlands awarded him "Ridder in de orde van Oranje-Nassau" [Knight in the Order of "Oranje Nassau" -- Oranje-Nassau is a combination of the names of dynasties. Every year on the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands, a list of honorable people is made. Always there are 3 to 5 people on the list who get this banner and other decorations.] In the same year he received special invitation from the Minister for Hajj of Saudi Arabia to attend a conference. So he used this opportunity and organised a group of pilgrims. On arrival he and his group were welcomed by the Minister. Local press covered his visit and published articles about him in the daily newspaper "Ukaz" of Jeddah. Arrangement was also made for him to see His Royal Highness King Faisal, but due to his preoccupation with the Hajj delegation and the conference, he was unable to avail of this rare opportunity.

He remained Chief Imam and religious head of the Suriname Islamic Association for 29 years – from 1945 to 1974. During this period besides his multifarious duties and engagements, he also edited the weekly "Jumu’ah Akhbar" single-handed.

On 14th April, 1974 he left Suriname for Holland to settle there permanently. First he stayed with his eldest son at Korfoedreef in Utrecht. Finally he got his own home. For six months he carried on lectures and religious discussions with various groups. Then with the help of some devoted members from Suriname, he was able to purchase a school building to hold congregational and other religious functions. By the grace of Allah within three years the building became insufficient because of the increasing number of members. So in 1977 Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i Islam, Utrecht was formed and a spacious and well-located church building was purchased. This building was converted into a mosque with arrangements for congregational prayers on the first floor and a grand hall on the ground floor for religious meetings and cultural functions. Ten years later the Anjuman was formally registered. At this thriving religious centre he started special classes for training Imams. These students were taught a special course and after qualifying it were given certificates. Some of these trained students are carrying on Imamat at various centres in Holland.

In 1982 his efforts led to the formation of a federation with representatives from various Ahmadiyya Jama’ats in Holland. It was called Federation of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i Islam, Holland. This federation consists of two representatives from each Jama’at. Its present head is Drs. MFR Karamat Ali.

Maulana Jaggoe has a busy schedule. He delivers talks and lectures on the invitation of various religious and cultural organisations in Holland. Some of the important talks have been published in the form of booklets.

On the invitation of various organisations and branches of Lahore Ahmadiyya Anjuman in various countries of the world, he has attended several conventions and anniversaries. He undertook two world-tours during which he visited all the Ahmadiyya organisations and important personalities in each country, even if he had to undertake long journeys. But he visited Indonesia Jama’at [branch of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement] several times and cherish their memory. There he met some of the intellectuals and devoted members of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i Islam, Indonesia. He had the honour of meeting Brother Sodewo, one of the founders of the Jama’at in Indonesia and the person who translated Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali’s English translation into Dutch. This was the first translation ever rendered into a foreign language. He also met the well-known president of the Indonesia Jama’at Dr. Ahmad Muhammad, who sadly died in an accident at Mina while performing Hajj. In 1994, Suriname Islamic Association celebrated its 65th anniversary. On this occasion in recognition of his meritorious services to the Association and to the cause of Islam in South America and Western Hemisphere, he was awarded the medal Sitara-i Ahmadiyyat ['The Star of Ahmadiyyat'].

He is 89 years old now but still carries on Imamat and other responsibilities at Utrecht Centre and other places with zeal and devotion. May Allah bless him with health and strength.

Maulana Al-Hajj Jaggoe is the father of eleven children, nine sons and two daughters, grandfather and great grandfather of thirty-one grand children and nineteen great grand children. He is 89 years old and will celebrate, Inshallah, his 65th wedding anniversary in 2004.

He is very grateful to the Almighty Allah for His help, blessings and mercy, which he has received during his life. He is also very grateful to his beloved wife, Lailun Nissa, who always stood by him in achieving his noble goal.

Some of his publications are:

  • Dutch-Urdu Dictionary
  • Mas’alah Taraweeh
  • Qiyam-i Ramazan
  • Mas’ala Rafa’ Yadain
  • Muslim Prayer Book
  • Muslim Catechism in Dutch
  • Advent of Reformers in Islam
  • Reply to some questions about the Quran raised by Watchtower.
Download Instructions: